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A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

Cirrus, also cirrhus, a climbing organ, structurally a whiplike extension of the leaf rachis, armed with reflexed spines and/or acanthophylls (q.v.); “a tendril. A slender twisting organ by which a plant climbs” (Lindley); “a curl-like tuft; a tendril-like mass or ‘spore horn’ of forced-out spores” (Ainsworth & Bisby), (fungus) “a tendrillike curl of exuded spores, ‘spore horn’ (S&D): cirrus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cirro; cirrhus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cirrho: [ > L. cirrus,-i (s.m.II), a curl, lock of hair, ringlet, filaments of plants similar to tufts of hair; tuft of feathers on birds, as a crest; the arms of polypi; filaments of plants similar to tufts of hair; a fringe upon a tunic (Lewis & Short)]; cf. flagellum,-i (s.n.II); see fringe, tendril; see whip; see prehendens,-entis (part.B), prehensilis,-e (adj.B): grasping, taking hold of, adapted for grasping, as in a tendril; see tuft;

NOTE: there does not appear to be any Latin or Greek justification for the ‘h’ embedded in the Latin word ‘cirrus,’ other than botanical usage that, in the older literature, more often uses the ‘h’ after the second of the pair of ‘r’s.

Note that -rr- [within the word] (in Greek words - double rho) is the equivalent of -rr- in Latin, but is transliterated into Latinized (from the Greek) words as -rrh-. However, this does not explain the ‘h’ in cirrhus, as this word does not derive from a Greek word. All botanical words in ‘rr’ or ‘rrh’ derived from the Latin word ‘cirrus’ are interchangeable.

NOTE: Cirrhus, “since Linnaeus, used for a tendril, a filiform organ of attachment, modified from a leaf, stipule, or aborted branch. The foregoing are frequently spelled cirriferous, cirriform, cirrose, Cirrus, etc. (from [L.] Cirrus, a curl)” (Jackson).

- folia pinnata, petiolo communi in setulam v. cirrhum desinente, foliolis 1-3-jugis (B&H), the leaves pinnate, with the shared petiole ending in a small seta or tendril.

- pedunculis cirrho destitutis (DeCandolle), with the peduncles lacking a cirrus [a tendrilled climbing organ].

- pedunculis cirrhis'incrassatis fibuliformis floriferis (DeCandolle), with the peduncles with cirrhi thickened, fibuliform [i.e. clasp-shaped], bearing flowers.

- ex cirrhis dicta Patte de chauve-souris (DeCandolle), it is called Patte de chauve-souris from the cirrhi [i.e. tendrils].

- pedunculi cirrhis nunc instructi'nunc destitutii (DeCandolle), the peduncles sometimes provided with cirrhi, sometimes lacking them.

- conidia cirrho pallide luteo exsudentia, conidia exuding a pale yellow cirrhus.

- cirris atque bracteis inflorescentiae paene ad bases sui fissis, with the cirri and also the bracts of the inflorescence split almost to their bases.

- pedunculi racemosi, interdum florum abortu in cirrhos evadentes (DeCandolle), the peduncles racemose, sometimes by abortion of the flowers resulting in tendrils.

- caule cum cirrhis tomentoso (DeCandolle), with the stem tomentose with tendril i.e. slender, curling appendages].

- pedunculi in cirrhum non conversi (DeCandolle), the peduncles not converted [i.e. transformed] into a tendril.

- [Vitis glabrata] cirrhis paniculiferis(DeCandolle), with panicle-bearing tendrils.

- herbae mediantibus cirrhis scandentes (B&H), herbs climbing by means of cirrhi [i.e. tendrils].

- petiolo saepe volubili nec in cirrhum mutato (B&H), with the petiole often twining, not changed into a cirrhus [i.e. tendril].

- ramulis obtusangulis paniculisque velutinis, foliis impari-pinnatis altérnis 1-4-jugis, rachi foliaceo-alata, círris nullis, foliolis elongates (F. Mueller), with the branchlets obtuse-angled, and the panicles velvety, with the leaves unequal-pinnate, alternate in 1-4 pairs, with the rachis leafy-winged, with tendrils none, with the leaflets elongate.

- cirri axillares glabri elongati simplices v. raro bifidi (F. Mueller), the tendrils axillary, glabrous, elongate, undivided or rarely bifid.

- petioli folio plerumque breviores, cirros superantes(F. Mueller), with the petioles usually shorter than the leaf, overtopping the tendrils.

- [fungus] sphaerulae villo quodam brevi lanuginoso, sparsim in cirrhos flexuosos ligno molli interrepentes prolongato, obductae (S&A), the sphaerules covered with a certain short, wooly villus [i.e. a coating of long weak hairs], here and there when extended, creeping inside soft wood in flexuous cirri [i.e. a tendril-like structure]

Cirrhi pedunculares: peduncular cirrhi, “tendrils proceeding from a peduncle” (Lindley); see peduncularis,-e (adj.B).

The moss genus Cirriphyllum, is an (inappropriate) combination of a Latin and Greek word, referring to leaves with very long acumina, like hairs.

NOTE: Karl Ludwig Willdenow:

“The tendril (cirrhus) is a filiform body, which serves for attaching plants to some support. Climbing plants (vegetabilia scandentia) are furnished with these. They are in general spiral, as in the vine, Vitis vinifera.”

Cirri types:

1. “axillary (cirrhi axillares), when they rise from the axillae of the leaves.

2. foliar (foliares), when they spring out of the points of the leaves.

3. petiolar (petiolares), when the cirrhi stand on the point of the common foot-stalk [i.e. petiole] of a compound leaf, as in Vicia.

4. peduncular (pedunculares), when they rise out of the foot-stalk [i.e. peduncle] of the flower.

5. Simple (cirrhus simplex), when the cirrhus is not divided.

6. Two-, three-, many-branched (cirrhus bi-, tri-, multifidus), when a cirrhus branches out into two, three or more parts.

7. Convolute (cirrhus convolutes), when the cirrhus winds itself regularly round a prop.

8. Revolute (cirrhus revolutus), when the cirrhus winds itself irregularly, sometimes to this side, sometimes to that.

When a simple leaf has a cirrhus at its apex, it is called ‘folium cirrhosum,’ as in Gloriosa superba, Flagellaria indica, etc.

When a pinnated leaf has a cirrhus at its apex as in most leguminous plants, it is called ‘folium pinnatim cirrhosum.’”


A work in progress, presently with preliminary A through R, and S, and with S (in part) through Z essentially completed.
Copyright © P. M. Eckel 2010-2018

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